A mother's tears gave Terese Jimenez, a Loyola Marymount University education professor, her first understanding of the confusion and frustration that comes from having a child with special education needs. Navigating the bureaucratic and complicated special education system can be daunting for any family. When cultural differences and language barriers are added to the process, the result is often an inadequate education. In effort to address this challenge, Jimenez joined the executive director of the nonprofit Learning Rights Law Center two years ago in a program that teaches families, mostly poor and Spanish-speaking, what their special-needs children's educational rights are and how to get them.
1st grader Isabella Pierce spends the first 90 minutes of her school day learning vocabulary words in her native English, writing in a journal and working on calendar lessons. Then she and her classmates at an Elgin elementary school switch rooms, teachers and languages. They repeat their lessons, this time in Spanish, while another group of 1st graders, who started the day learning in Spanish, switches to English. The two classrooms participate in an innovative dual-language program at Channing Elementary School in Elgin-based Unit District 46. More than 200 of Channing's 580 pupils are enrolled in the program, which has proven popular with them and their parents.
For Claudio Galvan, one of the more difficult parts of learning English is that lots of things are backward.
In Spanish, he explained, American cheese would be said "queso Americano." Remembering that adjectives come before the nouns in English takes some getting used to. Mr. Galvan is getting free help from the Scranton Council of Literacy Advance, better known as SCOLA Volunteers for Literacy, a nonprofit group that helps people learn to read. Twice a week, he and fellow student Vincente Ayala attend a class led by volunteer tutor Don Noll.
If you don't speak Spanish, Miami really can feel like a foreign country. In any restaurant, the conversation at the next table is more likely to be in Spanish than English. And Miami's population is only 65 percent Hispanic. El Paso is 76 percent Latino. Flushing, N.Y., is 60 percent immigrant, mainly Chinese. Chinatowns and Little Italys have long been part of our urban landscape, but would it be all right to have entire U.S. cities where most people spoke and did business in Chinese, Spanish or even Arabic? Are too many Third World, non-English-speaking immigrants destroying our national identity?
Standing in front of four bulletin boards covered in pictures of every child he's delivered, Dr. William Moors can recall details of each one, no matter how much time has passed. In his 10 years with Rivanna Family Medicine, Moors, who is fluent in Spanish, has become the go-to doctor for local Hispanic residents who don't speak English.